Is it a bit old school to enjoy the rattle of the letter box as a CD pops through? Perhaps so, but following a quick email exchange with Danish trumpeter and composer Jakob Sørensen a physical copy arrived of his quintet Bagland‘s new release, Cirkel. Sørensen is relative newcomer, one of a steady stream of emerging artists making their mark on the European scene. He’s already garnered a few awards. This is his third release with his quintet, and it’s a quiet gem. Elegantly understated, but constantly absorbing, it’s had me going back for more.
Open End Pt 1 sets the scene. Fragile, muted trumpet etches out a simple melodic fragment over arpeggios from guitar with just a whiff of Americana about it, an effect heightened by a bit of slide guitar as the band takes up the pulse and develops the melody. A rippling, triplet feel carries Steps along, driven by the bass whilst drums colours the slow moving theme. The title track, Cirkel, is built around an insistent phrase from the keyboards that never lets up as muted trumpet and guitar unfurl another gradually developing, affecting theme. Every now and then the whole band seems to pause for breath, before launching into the pulse again. This time ghostly, effect laden trumpet explores and probes over the grooving band.
The quintet is completed by Alex Jønsson on guitar, Mathias Jaeger on piano and synths, Frederik Sakham on bass and Frej Lesner on drums. Whilst the palette of sounds is basically acoustic, they each inject just enough effects to shift the atmosphere. There’s an edge and openness to the ambience as a consequence. Sørenesen’s writing is stripped back and spacious, frequently constructed around repeating motifs, melodic phrases spread across them, with occasional clearings for thoughtful soloing from the whole band at different times.
This is beautifully crafted music. It’s thoughtful, often wistful whilst being urged along by rocking and skipping pulses, casting a spell. It’s a good place to be. I heartily recommend this album. You can listen and buy on their bandcamp site here